How to Become a “Really” Good Writer

There is nothing good writers like to argue about more than what constitutes good writing. In my 30+ years in the publishing business I have taken part in my share of arguments about good writing. Many of them were lively. But few, if any, were ever resolved. Of course you can’t agree on what’s good about anything unless you begin with a definition of “good” that is both mutually agreeable and objective. Put differently, it’s impossible to have a useful discussion of good if by good you mean “It pleases me.” Three people read Walt Whitman’s I Sing the Body Electric. One person says it isn’t any good because the meter is awkward and because it does not rhyme. “I …

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How to Write A Good Headline

This is about headlines, particularly headlines for materials that sell health supplements, but there are lessons here for every headline writer. The headlines I’m going to quote come from Mike Pavlish, a successful copywriter who claims that they made him “$4 million in royalties.”

Mike correctly says that headlines are critical. He alludes to John Caples, a famous dead copywriter, who claimed that headlines “can pull 19 times more response than another headline with no other change in the copywriting or offer.”

“Without a great headline,” Mike says, “you are like the person who brings a knife to a gunfight – defeated before you even start.”

That said, let’s take a look at 10 of Mike’s headlines that performed very well…

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My Office

Like many male writers of my vintage, one of my literary heroes is Ernest Hemingway. Not just because I loved his stories and admired his prose but also because of the large, masculine way he lived his life. I liked the skiing and the sailing and the fishing and the boxing and the hunting and the bullfighting and the drinking and I even liked the fact that he shot himself when his end was inevitable.

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